The Arts and Literacy: Part One

Posted by Big Universe on Feb 5, 2013 6:57:55 AM

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All the arts can be integrated with literacy. For this post, let's take a look at drama and movement.

Think about the elements of a story: character, setting, plot. In theatre, a story comes alive, complete with props, scenes, costumes and actors. However, you don't have to put on a full out production to make this happen. Using tableau is one of my favorite ways to incorporate drama techniques quickly into what we are doing in the classroom. For tableau, a group of students create a freeze frame using just their bodies to encapsulate a moment in time. Think of a prompt you can ask of your students. Have them create a tableau to show

  • the beginning action in a story.
  • the climax of a chapter or story.
  • the relationship between and among characters.
  • the problem or conflict in a story.
  • the solution of the story.
  • the epilogue in a story.

Characterization is another way to use drama in literacy. Have students become and act like a character from the story. Bring to your students' attention how the person would look (facial expression, body language), act and talk. You can assign students to become different characters and have them interact with one another. Again, giving them a prompt can help with this. Be creative and ask students to do things straight from the book as well as make things up. Have characters

  • discuss a scene in the story.
  • discuss a current event.
  • work together on a problem (like building something or coloring the same picture).
  • go to a coffee shop and order some food.

Movement and dance can also tell a story. The story can be as simple as an individual moving through the growth of a plant from seed to flower or as complex as a dance that tells the story of a girl’s search for love.

Movement can also be used when responding to a piece of literature (story, poetry or lyrics) or as you gather your thoughts to create a story. Think about the use of time, space and energy as a means to express the elements of a story. Time refers to the speed of the movement (even beat, accents, syncopation), space refers to the various ways to move (straight line, curvy, twisted, etc) and examples of energy are strong/weak, heavy/light and bound/free. These are concepts you can practice as a warm up before students try using them in response to literature. Try one of these:

  • Move to a steady tempo: walk, skip, bounce, hop
  • Move in a line: straight, curvy, zig zag
  • With your feet planted, move your body in circles, curves, etc.
  • Move around the space as if you are heavy/light, strong/weak, etc.

When responding to literature, students should have a good understanding of the story so that they can move appropriately. Here are some ideas:

  • Students can show the action of a scene through movement. (Is the scene exciting or adventurous, dull or relaxing?)
  • Students create a dance for a character in the story. (How would the character move at this time in the story?)
  • Students create a dance that shows the sequence of a scene, chapter of story. For this, there will be a beginning, middle and end to their dance.

Enjoy the variety of ways drama and movement can enhance your students' appreciation for and understanding of the stories you read and learn.


Topics: Classroom Ideas, Integration Ideas

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